Daily Archives: March 29, 2011

Managing pastureland in Central Asia: the importance of locally legitimate law reform

by Elisa Scalise
This guest post was originally posted on Landesa’s Field Focus blog, which provides expert insight on the issues surrounding land rights and international development. Elisa Scalise is a Landesa attorney & land tenure specialist.

I was recently reminded of the importance, and the potency, of locally legitimate law reform (law reform which is based on what is feasible in practice and which can serve the dual purpose of satisfying a national agenda and reflect local needs).

Landesa recently concluded a project in Kyrgyzstan, which sought to develop and then test a community-driven model for managing conflict over pastureland resources. The pilot ayil okmotus, or municipalities, are located along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border of southern Kyrgyzstan, and contain two Tajik enclaves of Chorkhu and Vorukh.

A bit of background: Relations between ethnic groups in the Kyrgyzstan (and Central Asia) area can be tense, and have erupted into violence on more than one occasion (you might recall the events of June, 2010, in the nearby Jalalabad oblast).

Pastureland is the nexus of interdependence and (sometimes violent) tension between Tajiks and Kyrgyz.  Every Kyrgyz and Tajik household owns livestock, yet there are no pastures in the Tajik enclaves of Vorukh and Chorkhu.  Tajiks rely on Kyrgyz pastures to feed their livestock during the grazing season, and Kyrgyz must cross the Tajik enclaves to access their pastureland.

To address pasture use needs, the Tajiks and Kyrgyz in the pilot area make arrangements for Tajik animals to be grazed on Kyrgyz land.  Yet those arrangements are informal, lack transparency, are not enforceable when breached, and are conducted without the knowledge of national policy-makers and without support of a legal framework at the national level.

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